You’ve achieved Clarity and successfully Detached yourself from the outcome of your deal. How do you sustain and leverage the advantage that Clarity and Detachment give you? Maintain your Equilibrium.
In a previous article I shared on Detachment, I discussed an old opponent, Henry who, in being unable to detach from the outcomes he needed to gain for his clients became so emotionally overwrought that all I needed to do was act calmly and control the conversation once he’d tired of ranting. Henry had completely lost his Equilibrium, and with it, lost control of his position in our deal.
While gaining Clarity and Detachment takes you a long way toward being able to maintain Equilibrium, it can be lost all its own. Negotiations are rarely straightforward, wholly lighthearted affairs. They can get heated, and even the best negotiators have felt the pull of emotion trying to compromise their position. It’s possible to remain crystal clear on your objectives and be willing to walk away if the deal isn’t going to result in what you want, but still find yourself emotionally on tilt because your opposition is offending, acting unethically, challenging you or your assumptions or using manipulative negotiating tactics.
There are a few crucial things we can do to avoid losing our Equilibrium before it derails our deals.
What do you do to calm and center yourself when you are stressed or times are tough? Maybe you meditate or go for a run. Do you talk things out with a trusted friend or colleague? Perhaps some breathing exercises or a calming playlist do the trick. Whatever it is that works for you, try hard to do it in advance of your negotiating session. The better your Equilibrium heading in, the better you’ll be able to maintain.
We need to be able to recognize when we’re on the verge of becoming upset or frustrated or shortsighted. Your heartrate increasing or your face feeling flushed are reliable indicators that you might be out of balance. If your thoughts become myopic and fixated, you need to move past your hang-up and remain focused on the bigger picture. Externally, you should know in advance what kind of things coming from the other side are potential triggers. Being prepared for the worst can be a strong firewall for your Equilibrium while taking some of your opponents most important pieces off the board.
Stop Trying to Change Them
Any negotiation is a “bend-don’t-break” proposition. Tactics that purposefully push people into the emotional deep end are meant to create a zero-sum scenario that would otherwise be a non-starter. The most certain way to fall victim to this tactic and sacrifice your Equilibrium is to engage at that level and try to change the behavior of your opponent. Instead of focusing on ways to control that which is out of your control, do the internal work and choose to change your response.
Instead of taking offense to your opponent’s tactics and letting them effect you on an emotional level, maintain your Equilibrium by reframing what this kind of behavior coming from across the table actually means. If they are resorting to bully tactics and cheap tricks, it’s probably because they’ve got no other play or they were poorly trained. Even if it’s untrue, thinking this way to reorient yourself and get back to center can save a negotiation.
It can really be this simple: Clarity, Detachment, and finally, Equilibrium. Still, it takes hard work to gain control of these three pillars and becomes a truly Authentic Negotiator. Are you prepared to do the tough internal work necessary to succeed in negotiations? My Authentic Negotiating Success Quiz can show you what you’re doing well and how much work still lies ahead of you on the road to Authentic Negotiating.